Advance research and preparation helps you make the most of your nonprofit’s fundraising event by increasing both funds raised and expanding the donor pool. Here are a few tips to help you maximize your fundraising efforts.


1. Advance Prospect Screening

Before you begin planning your fundraising event, perform a prospect screening of your current donor pool. Prospect screenings can make the difference between your event being a “night to remember” and a “night to quickly forget.” Carefully review your list of supporters, research the opportunities and uncover key data that you may use from initial event planning to post-event follow-up actions.

Prospect screening identifies two key factors — a person’s interest in making a philanthropic donation and a person’s ability to make said donation.

Look at data that marks both wealth and philanthropic interest, such as past giving to your organization; involvement with other nonprofits, real estate ownership, and political giving.

Use this information to develop a new event or tweak an established event to ensure you  plan the right type of event and attract the right type of donor.  Should you plan a glamorous black tie gala or host an outside fun run or plan an indoor energetic dance-a-thon? Good prospect research helps determine if you are on track.

To build a strong guest list be sure to first take a second look at your screening results. Ask yourself which donors best suits the event you’re planning rather than compile the largest group of names. Invite the right targets and encourage them to bring guests introducing more donor prospects to your organization.

Special kick-off events to support a major capital campaign require a special approach. According to DonorSearch’s capital campaign guide, these types of events bridge the gap between the quiet and public phases of your campaign. It’s important to build a guest list that strikes a balance of attendees from the quiet phase who are major donors and attendees who may participate in the public phase yet may not fall into a higher giving level.


2. Plan Donor Time During Event

Know your donors. No matter your purpose or style of fundraising event be sure to identify in advance which high giving donors are planning to attend. Develop a plan of action to seek them out during the event. Review your prospect research and call out potential high-quality prospects. Compile a list. Assign a team member who will find ways to have meaningful interactions with the prospects to further engage their support and understanding of your mission and needs.

The benefits of researching well before the first guest arrives helps you better engage donors of all levels.


3. Embrace Technology To Raise More Money

To help your ensure your team is available to spend quality time at your event, plan ahead and enlist outside vendors to help you make your event the most successful possible. Technology simplifies many tasks typically held by board members, key volunteers or extra staff.

Embracing technology not only streamlines the front and back end of fundraising operations but also frees up valuable time for your key board members and volunteers to spend with your guests focusing on engaging donor prospects.

Smartphones are increasingly popular making the bridge to incorporate mobile bidding technology into your event easy. Mobile bidding technology can be seamlessly executed throughout the event helping guests use a simple gesture or swipe of a smartphone or tablet to increase support through silent auctions, fund the need or text-to-give. Mobile bidding technology leads to increased funds raised at most events.

Text-to-give can also have a powerful impact. Consider conducting a text-to-give ask following an impactful speaker that clearly illustrates your impact and need. Text-to-give offers guest a quick, simple way to act and choose their level of giving. Bonus: Ask for a message of support and watch your guests help increase your awareness along with their monetary contribution.

A good mobile bidding platform can also deliver information about your charity adding value to increase awareness before, during and after your event. Invited guests unable to attend an event may participate remotely creating additional opportunity for donations without the extra expense at the event itself.

Bonus tip: After the event ends, you can continue to reach your guests through mobile bidding technology with last minute, special items or a general thank you with an option to donate once again.


4. Involve Area Businesses: Ask for in-kind donations

Corporate giving accounts for billions of dollars in charitable giving each year. From matching gifts to volunteer grants to annual gifts, there’s no shortage of opportunities to embrace corporate social responsibility.

Asking for in-kind donations from local businesses helps secure necessary event supplies while fostering relationships with prominent businesses in your community that may lead to more involvement and support.

Advance research helps uncover companies that donate that may lead to attention, larger partnerships down the line.

Gesture also offers a terrific guide to find sponsorships, donations, grants, and other ways corporations help nonprofit organizations with their fundraising initiatives. You can view the 2017 Corporate Donation Guide here.


5. Engage Supporters: Encourage Volunteerism

Nonprofits should actively seek ways to engage their support base; encouraging volunteerism.

Volunteers see firsthand the work that goes into carrying out your mission offering a window into your nonprofit’s inner workings to connect supporters to your cause for life.

There are countless ways to get involved including:

Bonus tip: You can apply a similar donor prospect screening methodology to learn more about your volunteers. Click here to find out more!


6. Post Event Screening of Attendees

Post event, you will have a list of new supporters and donors. Again, it’s important to research the list with the same practices used for advance donor prospects.

After carefully screening your post-event list, you’ll have a clear idea of the best way to handle follow-up messaging, future communications and more. Post event attendee screenings are an important step to greatly improve your donor list and better ways to handle donor stewardship.

Who knows? You might have a new major donor in your midst that needs to be passed along to your major gift officer.


7. Update your donor database.

Last, but not least, once you’ve acquired all sorts of valuable donor information, it’s paramount that you ensure your database reflects your new data.

Depending on the CRM you’re working with, much of your new data may have already funneled into your database. If not, it’s a critical step to review and update to ensure continued success with fundraising.

Best practice is to keep your database up-to-date, or clean, on an ongoing basis. To clean your database, remove any inactive donors, check that all contact information is correct and clear out any duplicates. Create database management procedures. Defined donor base procedures help your team not only expedite the process but also reduce errors and increase long-range support and donor retention.